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Here are some points to for you and your partner to consider.
If you’re living together, there are some simple but important steps you and your partner can take to protect yourselves in case your relationship breaks down, or one of you dies: –
- Have a declaration of trust drawn up
All too often, the legal title of a property confirming either sole or joint ownership does not go far enough to explain you and your partner’s intentions as to who owns what share of the property, even where it’s intended to be an equal share. A declaration of trust is a legal document which makes clear the parties’ interests in the property and can be invaluable should you split up with your partner, as it provides clear evidence of your intentions. It’s also useful if you and your partner are not contributing to the purchase or upkeep of the property in equal shares, or if parents are assisting with the deposit, which is increasingly common.
- Consider a cohabitation agreement
Whilst a declaration of trust can set out your intentions in terms of ownership of the property you may also wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement to record what you and your partner have agreed over matters relating to the arrangements for living together. These agreements can cover much wider issues than a declaration of trust, including payment of the mortgage and outgoings, non-monetary contributions, operation of bank accounts, nomination of pension death benefits, ownership of house contents, as well as car purchases and running expenses. They can be valuable documents for clarifying intentions during a relationship and if the relationship breaks down.
- Draw up a will
It’s vital that you have a valid will in place if you’re cohabiting, as cohabitees do not automatically have an entitlement to their partner’s estate if they die without one. A solicitor can advise you on the content which should set out your wishes.
These are fairly simply but essential protective measures to consider if you are either in a cohabiting relationship, or intend to cohabit. Careful thought should also be given as to whether the position will change if you decide to get married or enter into a civil partnership, or have a child together.
For help and advice, please contact our family law team